Teenage Manchester City striker Liam Delap said being named in the starting lineup for Thursday’s League Cup clash against Bournemouth caught him off guard but that he would be smiling for weeks after marking his senior debut with a goal.
Delap, the son of former Stoke City defender Rory, scored the opener for Pep Guardiola’s side in the 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, running on to Phil Foden’s through ball and firing past Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers.
“It was a bit of a shock to be put in the starting line up but I took it with a pinch of salt and just worked my hardest,” the 17-year-old told BBC.
“I was buzzing to get the call up and to top it with a goal, I can’t ask for much more.”
“I need to keep working hard in training and look to take every opportunity I get. It will take a few weeks to stop smiling.”
With Sergio Aguero still battling a knee injury, Guardiola said Delap would have more opportunities to impress.
“We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him,” Guardiola said. “At 17, Liam is a different striker to what we have in terms of physicality.
“We see in training how good a finisher he is. Now is the time to be calm and keep working. We are delighted with his performance.”
After false start Man Utd seek lift-off at Brighton
Manchester United are already off the pace in the Premier League so Saturday’s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion offers a chance for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to get their challenge up to speed.
United began their season a week late after being given extra time to recover from their exertions in the Europa League, then suffered a 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace that poured cold water over any pre-season optimism.
That performance attracted widespread criticism and shone the spotlight firmly on United’s lack of business in the transfer window, although their one new signing Donny van de Beek did score on his debut at Palace.
Lacking creativity in midfield and clumsy in central defence, United looked way off a side capable of closing the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City, although victory at Brighton would at least quieten the chorus of disapproval.
“They need a centre back, and probably further recruitment also to be competitive,” former striker Dimitar Berbatov said. “At the end of the day, if Crystal Palace can score three past you, you are in trouble.
“If they don’t strengthen, it will be a long season for them.”
United did beat Luton Town 3-0 away in the League Cup this week, although the scoreline was given a flattering look by late goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
But Brighton, who won impressively 3-0 at Newcastle United last weekend, will be a far tougher proposition.
After an unfortunate 3-1 defeat by Chelsea on the opening day Brighton have scored nine goals without reply in three games in all competitions and will relish United’s visit.
While United seek their first league points, Crystal Palace and Everton, two of the early pace-setters, clash at Selhurst Park looking to make it three wins from three.
Two teams who struggled to score goals last season have been rejuvenated in attack with Palace bringing in Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea and exciting winger Eberechi Eze.
Everton’s young striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored four goals in two league games while James Rodriguez opened his account in a 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Arsenal’s encouraging start to the new campaign will be put to the test on Monday at Liverpool when both sides will be protecting 100% records as will Leicester City when they host Manchester City on Sunday.
Several clubs are still to get off the mark, one of whom, Sheffield United, host a goal-hungry Leeds United in a Yorkshire derby on Sunday. Sheffield are yet to score while Leeds have banged in seven goals, and conceded seven, in two games.